I hear you’re finally getting rid of that wretched boob, Boris Johnson.
Boris Johnson is to resign as Conservative leader but will push to stay on as prime minister until the autumn, prompting a backlash from some Tory MPs who say he has to go now.
Johnson’s decision came after an extraordinary standoff with his cabinet, which ended after Nadhim Zahawi, his new chancellor, told him to quit. By that point, more than 50 ministers had walked out, citing his mishandling of a string of scandals and failure of ethics.
So that’s what a collapsing government looks like.
There are things I don’t understand here. So he’s going to resign from leadership of his political party, but he wants to stay on as prime minister of his country for a few more months? How does that work? His scandals and ethical failures are just too much for the oh-so-ethical Conservative party, but are entirely satisfactory for the leadership of the United Kingdom? He’s like the lingering stink of a pungent fart, he’s going to cling to whatever wisps of power he can grip, in spite of near-universal dislike. We’ve experienced that over here, with a criminal ex-president pretending to be in important figure of influence, but hey, at least the UK didn’t have a mob of yahoos storming Downing Street.
Oh, and he’s going to be replaced by Dominic Raab? Isn’t that just more of the same? All of your Tories seem to be as repugnant as our Republicans.
David Gerard says
As a tweet I saw today put it, Boris isn’t Caligula – he’s the horse.
(An earlier tweet noted that Trump was the horse for the US.)
All the Tories resigning have been careful to reiterate that they support the Conservative programme to date, i.e. cruelty as the point. I suppose the danger now is that someone more competent at the cruelty might get the job.
During the Revolution here, Tories were the loyalists to the crown and conservatives, Whigs were liberals (and merged later into the liberal party in the mid-1800’s).
Benjamin Franklin had a bit of a split with his son William, who was a Tory loyalist and Governor of NJ. After the Revolution, William departed to England and remained there for the rest of his life.
Still, I suspect that the UK would fare better were Johnson to be replaced with a potted plant.
I wonder, once he and his Tory ilk are finally gone and a more progressive party in place, if Brexit might be reversed? Of all nations, I’d honestly expect the UK to know better than to consider going it alone is better and stronger than with the backing of being a member of the EU!
We have a certain degree of leeway when it comes to Prime Ministers and leaders of political parties over here. Technically, yes, the leader of the party (or coalition) with the most votes becomes the Prime Minister, so by resigning as leader of the Tories, Johnson is giving up the premiership.. But it is recognised that a PM can stick around for a while until his party has had a leadership election and come up with a replacement. It is far from normal to do this – usually the Deputy PM takes over as a caretaker PM when the old PM’s credibility is shot to pieces – but it is allowed.
The thing is, though, it doesn’t really matter. Johnson was the agent that the Tory donors – the wealthy landowners and corporate interests – chose to head their efforts. He was the one they felt could be trusted to see that their desires were catered to at the expense of everyone else. The next PM will still be a Tory, and still be answerable to this agenda. Raab is, by all accounts, an idiot. But a pliable idiot who can be relied upon to follow what his handlers tell him. We’re in for at least two more years of this nightmare until the next General Election. Unless we get our act together and bring them down with a General Strike and many, many ancillary acts of civil disobedience.
Sadly the Labour Party is being de-fanged by Starmer and his Neoliberal, Blairite circle. What we really need is the progressive agenda that Corbyn stood for, with genuine, serious proposals to undo the damage of the last 40 years, move away from a capitalistic economy and put the needs of the people first. I don’t know whether that will be in place by the next election. It might be – Corbyn’s rise was entirely unpredicted in 2015, and we may see something like that emerge again.
We have, however, been treated to the dreary but predictable spectacle of potential Tory leadership candidates trying to secure the bigot vote already. In particular Priti Patel has doubled down on her anti-immigrant neuroses, and Suella Braverman has decided that transphobia is the key to popularity among the lost and the damned.
Of course, one can hope that the rabid bigotry spouted by the candidates will put off the majority of the British electorate even more than they already are.
It “works” because the post of PM isn’t actually rigidly defined. There are a lot of conventions around it, but very little actual legislation. And as such there’s no actual requirement that the PM even be an MP, let alone leader of their party – all they really need to be able to say (on paper anyway) is that they can command the loyalty of the house (ie have a working majority that can pass legislation).
Now de Pfeffel can’t do that, but in order to eject him there would have to be a parliamentary vote of no confidence – so far he’s only faced a party vote (which he won), and may face another (which he’d lose).
But – and this is where it gets fun – a parliamentary vote could trigger a general election (parliament would have 14 days to agree a new govt instead), which the Tory party do not want until they’ve had some time to memory-hole their selection of and support for de Pfeffel.
The other option is rather thermonuclear – the monarch (Crown, I suppose) can in theory dissolve the government, but this is a power that while it exists would almost certainly result in the end of the monarchy itself if exercised.
Another possibility is that de Pfeffel dissolves his own govt and calls a general election just to spite the rest of the party.
call me mark says
Johnson is applying the same strategy to the premiership as he did with Brexit; he wants to leave without leaving.
Rich Woods says
But not fronted by Corbyn. I voted for him in the Labour leadership election because he said he would call a policy convention to sort out what policies people actually wanted, instead of sticking with the Tory-lite Blairist agenda or returning in full to the 1980s radicalism he first entered Parliament with (interestingly enough, Blair also entered Parliament in 1983: reading his maiden speech, knowing how he would end up, is quite entertaining). Anyway, Corbyn didn’t do what he’d promised, so I’m glad he’s gone.
Now, is there anyone in the Labour Party with sufficient progressive fire but enough practicality to set a new path? Jess Phillips, maybe. At the very least she’d give the right-wing commentators an aneurysm.
Cartomancer has summed up the situation well in #3 and #4 (except that the right of the labour party was taken by surprise in ’15 and ’17; they and their backers are doing/will do a hell of a lot to make sure that can’t happen again).
Trades Union action looking more positive, though. And of course Scottish Independence.
Jonathan Pie’s summary is also top-notch
The supposed classical scholar seems to have overlooked an important ancient Greek concept, namely that ὕβρις generally leads to Νέμεσις .
To corrupt for the tories, quite an achievement.
Then again, the real reason might be that he’s just too damn bad at it.
Wouldn’t the proper analogy be a mob of yahoos storming the Houses of Parliament? 10 Downing St is more equivalent to the White House.
Congratulations are premature – Johnson is still PM and, I have no doubt, scheming to remain so.
On the contrary, it is entirely normal for the resigning leader to remain PM until their party selects a replacement: May did so, Cameron did so, Blair did so, Thatcher did so, Wilson did so – that’s the last five PMs who resigned while their party still had a majority in the Commons. Before that, only Tory leaders had done so since WW1, and at that time the new Tory leader was supposed to “emerge” without anything in the way of an election even among Tory MPs – the “men in suits” would visit the current PM, if he wasn’t going voluntarily, and tell him his time was up, and who he would be replaced by. The difference this time is that no-one trusts Johnson not to try to sabotage the process of electing a replacement, but the Tories seem today to have given up any idea of pushing him out immediately and sticking Raab in as a stand-in – more fools them. One reason seems to be precisely that there is no procedure for designating someone as “interim” Prime Minister: either you’re PM – appointed by the monarch – or you’re not. So if they put Raab in, he might decide to stay – and then they’d have to go through the whole rigmarole again.
Indeed he is. But he’s apparently not standing for leader, nor being stuck in as a temporary placeholder.
I’m fairly sure the “14-day rule” no longer holds: that was instituted when the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 was passed, and that Act was repealed by the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022, which restored the power of the PM to call an election at a time of their choosing (there are supposedly some customary limits on this, but it’s not clear the Queen would have the courage to refuse Johnson a dissolution if he asked for one, any more than she did to refuse him a prorogation, demanded purely for political advantage in 2019 and later ruled illegal). If a vote of No Confidence in the government is passed, meaning the PM definitely doesn’t have the support of the House of Commons, I think the Queen can call on someone else to form a government if there is an obvious candidate rather than agree to a dissolution, but the situation may not even be clear. In any case, the Tories will not vote for a Labour No Confidence motion, which is being planned purely to force the Tories to show support for Johnson continuing in office. It is still possible, in my view, that Johnson will try to call an election if he can find or create a pretext for doing so.
That’s the Whig version of history. Later on Tories represented the landed gentry and the Whigs represented industrialists and the merchant class, the Whigs were kind of more liberal. That was not the case at the time of the glorious revolution, Whigs represented puritanism, tolerance of protestant dissenters and oppression of Catholics. Later Whigs tried to portray the “revolution” (coup/invasion) as part of a progressivist march towards liberalism but look up the Orange Order to see the true face of the parliamentarians.
It doesn’t make sense to me to call the glorious revolution a good thing. It was a war in which many Irish and Scottish people died in a conflict between factions of the English parliament that in turn was essentially a proxy war between the Netherlands and France. Utterly pointless.
Raging Bee says
karellen: I’m really surprised that the couple almost directly behind him didn’t get up and go have their moment somewhere else. They must have heard him, and known they were on camera.
I infer he wasn’t really there and it was a green screen, or they were actors for a purpose of showing that the people really didn’t care.